Both RuPaul and Billy Porter won Emmys during Sunday night's annual awards ceremony
During the Emmy Awards on Sunday night, RuPaul took the stage after his show RuPaul’s Drag Race earned the trophy for outstanding reality TV series.
As the producer/host, 58, delivered his speech, cameras captured Porter in the audience with a blank expression on his face and seemingly giving a side-eye. His reaction prompted a number of social media users to speculate that the Pose actor, 50, was throwing shade at RuPaul and that there was some underlying drama between the pair.
However, after winning an Emmy of his own, Porter had an opportunity to speak to reporters, where he set the record straight about his friendship with the Drag Race host.
“Let me make this clear right now in this room to everybody. Right now. There was never a side-eye coming from me,” he explained. “There’s never anything negative coming from me. You’re never going to get from it. Okay. It’s all love, all love, it’s all positivity. Don’t come to me with that.”
Porter said that the cameras likely caught him at the wrong time, which made it appear as if he was giving side-eye to RuPaul. The actor also praised his friend for helping him get to where he is today.
“They can catch me and it can look like a side-eye, [but] RuPaul is a friend of mine,” he said. “I am so proud of him. I stand on his shoulders. I stand on his shoulders. He is doing it. He paved the way for me, so there’s never a side-eye about that.”
In addition to winning for outstanding competition program, RuPaul took home an award for outstanding host for a reality or competition program. He was also nominated for his work on RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked for outstanding unstructured reality program.
Porter, meanwhile, made history on Sunday night when he became the first openly gay black man to be nominated — and win — an Emmy for outstanding actor in a drama series for his portrayal of Pray Tell in Pose.
In the FX drama, the Broadway veteran and Tony Award winner plays Pray Tell, the outspoken and outrageous emcee of the New York City house balls the ’80s-set show centers on. The series features the largest cast of transgender actors and LGBTQ actors in television history.
The show, which also earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding drama series, was recently renewed for a third season.
“We as artists are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet,” Porter said in his speech. “Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t ever stop telling the truth.”
In the press room after his win, Porter told reporters that representation in media has “the power to create empathy.”
“I feel like physical representation are the only things that create change. It’s when we are available, that we have the power to create empathy. Through the way we tell stories,” he said. “I think being black, I know that being black and gay and out, and being in this position.”
The actor added that he hopes “young queer people of all colors can look at me and know that they can.”
“It’s been a long. It’s been a lot of work. It’s been a long time,” he said. “And I am just so grateful that I live long enough to see the day where I could stand up in front of the world as my true authentic self. My true authentic self, I was told that who I am was never going to work. I was told that who and what I am would never be successful. Period.”
“That’s what I was told. I did not believe that. I did not believe that,” he continued. “This is proof positive that believe in yourself, invest in yourself, Love yourself, and then teach other people how to do it.”